Our Background

The business behind the philanthropy

Our founder, Garfield Weston, was a visionary Canadian businessman who was born in Toronto above his father’s bread factory in 1898. He moved his family to England in 1935 and built a successful international business empire, overcoming challenges presented by the Great Depression and World War II. In 1958 he established the Garfield Weston Foundation in the UK with an endowment of shares in the family business, ‘Wittington Investments’ – a sum which represented 80% of his family’s wealth.

“I don’t feel in any way the sense of having given up a lot of money….it has helped to give me a feeling that perhaps I was making a contribution in the world that would benefit the lives of many, many people, without actually grasping too much of it myself.” Garfield Weston, 1958

60 years later, the Foundation continues to flourish, underpinned by Wittington Investments’ diverse portfolio, the largest of which is a controlling interest in Associated British Foods (ABF) along with hotels, property and retail interests including the iconic Fortnum & Mason. ABF is responsible for an array of everyday brands that can be found in our homes such as Kingsmill, Twinings, Ovaltine and Primark. It’s ordinary, down to earth things like bread, tea and affordable fashion that enable the Foundation to do so much good.

The founder’s values and philosophy permeates these companies to this day. Put simply, the success of the businesses in the Foundation’s endowment, enables it to make grants to charities across the UK of more than £1billion since we began.